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An interview with Gerard Metrailler, Corel's Senior Director of Product Management, Graphics on the new CorelDRAW X5.

On a whistle stop world tour during April 2010, Gerard was in Australia recently to help spread the CorelDRAW X5 gospel.

He explained that the worldwide launch has gone exceptionally well to date with Australia and New Zealand being no exception.

GerardThe main user base for CorelDRAW X5 had not changed with the major market being what he called graphics professionals. "These are potentially people that have not been professionally trained but are people that can do a bit of everything.

People who are not necessarily trained at an art school but who learn graphics on the go and who are either freelancers who need to be able to do a little bit of everything in graphics from logos to the business cards to the flyer to everything you want.

"These people are your readers in the sign and engraving industries. CorelDRAW is really the leading application when it comes to graphics production in these industries and we continue to focus a lot on and work towards to make sure we remain number one in those industries."

WFOL: We asked Gerard to summarise the major updates that are in the latest version that are relevant to the sign and engraving industries.

"We've really categorised them in, I would say, five major pods, or five major buckets if you will. One of them that we've focused on is being able to find your assets, by that I mean find the content that you can use for your design. Most of our users don't actually create from a white page and go from there, but are re-using clipart, files, photos etc., from other products. We've introduced a brand new application called Corel Connect which enables you to find the assets your going to use for your design a lot faster.

"Then another big focus for us in this release is around having very powerful and fast tools, and this goes from things that are very intangible but you'll notice when you use the application. Things like multi core support which means the program runs much faster on your computer if you have a multi core CPU.

"We see a lot of trends for example in graphic design around more organic design, organic and fluid design. We've added a lot of tools around that with capabilities of creating new types of curves like peace lines etc.

"We've completely redesigned our mesh filter which enables you to create with very simple vector shapes some amazing graphics. I mean users can now really mesh colours together to give amazing results.

"Other enhancements include improvements to Corel PhotoPaint. We've continued to evolve that application, we now support around 320 different RAW camera files. A lot of work was done around none destructive editing when it comes to photo editing and that's very important for anybody who does photo editing to work with lenses, kit masks etc,. Those things have been enhanced in PhotoPaint and enable users to work very fast and very quickly.

CorelDRAW_X5"The colour management facilities in X5 have been considerably improved. Colour management starts from the moment you create a design so will want to make sure you use the right colours so things like the eye dropper tool have been completely redesigned. We have a new concept we call the document palette, this is basically a palette that is going to be treated dynamically as you design with all the colours you've used so far, so that you have a whole history of all the colours you've used.

"We also include the latest Pantone Goo palettes for example. We also have for wide format printers, for example, the latest Roland DG colours. So that if you have a VersaCam for instance, you have the Roland DG colour palette that has the contour line etc. So all this is ready right out of the box.

"Until now, colour management has been more of an art than a science, it was still something fairly complex to master and we have really worked hard on re-thinking colour management making it easy for those who don't understand it and don't want to understand it. For the guru's in colour management, they have full control and flexibility, everything from being able to use the Adobe colour management system if you want to, to being able to do on screen soft proofing very easily for example.

"The next big area of focus for CorelDRAW is around the output and being able to output to any media including the web. We really wanted to rethink about how users create web graphics. When you look at a work flow of graphic designers when they create web graphics, they tend to start in a vector illustration program to create their graphics and export that into a photo editing application to do the optimisation of the images for the web, then go into the web software. With X5 we have introduced a new mode which we call the pixel preview mode which enables users to do all these, the image optimisation and making sure you're re-optimising the images you export directly from within the vector application."

WFOL: What facilities does X5 have for setting profiles for their specific printer and media?

"Absolutely, if you have the ICC profile of your printer for example, you'll be able to put it in there."

WFOL: Then it seems CorelDRAW is taking the role of RIP as well as all of it's other functions, is that right?

"It's not replacing a RIP, its enhancing the RIP, making sure that the RIP doesn't have to do too much guess work. So we're helping out as much as possible and making the flow as seamless as possible.

WFOL: What sort of feedback mechanisms do you have within Corel to get user feedback for your next update.

"We've got different systems, first of all we receive a lot of emails from our users which is very useful but our preferred route for feedback is through our user community site. On our web site, there are forums for people to put forward suggestions and we're using that as a great source of information for our future versions."

WFOL: Is there anything else you would like to add?

"I just wanted to mention also that we have not only made it much easier for users to learn as they go, we have two hours of training video as part of the package. That was actually done by a trainer here in Australia for English speaking countries around the world.

Not only that but we've completely redesigned our packaging, and we're introducing a concept of what we call the guidebook which is a hard cover, full cover book of 320 pages that comes with the box, so its really something that has a lot of value to the users, a source of inspiration, a lot of hints for how to best use the product, tips and tricks from gurus within the industries, different sections on colour management and yet another section from somebody who does car wraps and how they prepare the job. All together a lot of information is in the guidebook."

WFOL: Gerard, thank you for your time and enjoy the rest of your stay in Australia.